What the author of a summer reading guide takes along to read on a beach vacation

What the author of a summer reading guide takes along to read on a beach vacation

I’ve gotten requests all summer to share what I–the author of a beach reading guide–takes along to read on a beach vacation.

My family is just back from a week at the beach, so I have the answer right here.

These books were in my beach bag for 2013:


I don’t usually take so many hardback books on vacation, but I hit it big in the library’s new release section the day before we left. (As you know, if you follow me on instagram.)

Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, Therese Anne Fowler. Because I re-watched Midnight in Paris last month.

Life After Life: A Novel, Kate Atkinson. A new release with an interesting premise.

State of Wonder: A Novel, Ann Patchett. I’ve enjoyed several books by her lately and wanted to give a recent release a try.

And the Mountains Echoed, Khaled Hosseini. (Though I haven’t enjoyed–haven’t even finished–his previous works.)

Peter Pan, J. M. Barrie. (Although I’m just noticing I could have bought the Kindle version for 99 cents. That would have been worth a lighter book bag.)


Jesus Feminist: An Invitation to Revisit the Bible’s View of Women, Sarah Bessey. My advance review copy came two days before we left town and I made my husband hide it so I wouldn’t be tempted. Releases November 5.

Into the Wild, Jon Krakauer. I’ve been meaning to read this one for years.


(These are only the books I thought I might read on our trip–not the contents of my Kindle library.)

Jane, Actually: or Jane Austen’s Book Tour, Jennifer Petkus. After I blogged about this one recently, the author sent me a copy.

I Promise Not to Suffer: A Fool For Love Hikes the Pacific Crest Trail, Gail D. Storey. Because I agreed to review this one.

Chop, Chop, L. N. Cronk. For the rave reviews I’ve heard from trusted sources.

Eat with Joy: Redeeming God’s Gift of Food, Rachel Marie Stone. Katherine recommended this highly, so I snagged it when it was on Kindle sale for $2.99 right before we left.

The Lost Husband: A Novel, Katherine Center. This had “summer read” written all over it.

What I actually read

I didn’t actually read all of these! Even by my standards, that would be crazy. I finished–in order–State of WonderLife After LifeI Promise Not to SufferZ: A Novel of Zelda FitzgeraldThe Lost Husband, and Jesus Feminist. More details coming soon. 🙂

Share your best (or worst) summer reads in comments. 

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18 comments | Comment


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  1. I smiled at the post title because I was wondering! 🙂 I actually just rewatched Midnight in Paris as well, and found myself googling all the writers as I watched.

    My best summer read was James Herriot, hands down. Followed by Quiet.

    I loved Peter Pan, but doubt I’ll ever be able to handle Hosseini (at least if his books are as emotionally heavy as The Kite Runner movie).

    • Anne says:

      I abandoned The Kite Runner because it was way too intense for me, at least at the time. But I asked around and the general opinion was that his latest was a little gentler.

      I know I said this at your blog, but I need to read some James Herriot. 🙂

      • Sara says:

        Knowing enough about the story, I avoided The Kite Runner altogether. And the Mountains Echoed is much less intense and contains the most terrific set of interwoven stories. There is considerable melodrama, but even this fan of all things realist in fiction was taken in by the tales. Also, I found A Thousand Splendid Suns good but plodding, and this is anything but that.

  2. Beth says:

    I really loved The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown. The story of the 1936 rowing team from the University of Washington was very compelling, and the author interwove their story with how Germany was preparing to host the Olympics right before World War II. I thought the book was very well done.

  3. Jennifer H says:

    I finished the last book in the Chop Chop series on MY beach vacation last week 🙂 The first and the last are definitely the best books of the series in my opinion, but you can’t read the last one without reading all the ones in between. I’ll try to update my goodreads this week.

  4. Dee says:

    I loved “State of Wonder”. It’s such a good adventure story for women–with everything from gorgeous silk opera gowns to hand-to-hand combat with snakes. And “Peter Pan” is one of my favorite books of all time!

  5. Breanne says:

    I do love Peter Pan. My favourite read thus far has been A Spoonful of Sugar, it has the right mix of history/memoir/and loving parenting tips plus funny. The fact that the author was 90 when she wrote was so inspiring to me.

  6. I couldn’t finish The Kite Runner either, so I’m curious to see what you think of And the Mountains Echoed. And I enjoyed Eat With Joy – curious to hear your opinion of it as well.

    My favorite summer read was The Movement of Stars by Amy Brill – wonderful historical fiction about a female astronomer on Nantucket in the 1840s. I also finally read Lean In, devoured a really fun YA novel called Smart Girls Get What They Want (great title!), and savored a bookish memoir called Howards End is on the Landing. Loved it.

  7. Sarah says:

    I’ve been eyeing the novel on Zelda Fitzgerald but still haven’t read it yet. I read A Thousand Splendid Suns for a graduate seminar, and it was the happiest thing we read for this class. So, I get not being able to finish The Kite Runner or any of his works.

  8. I can’t wait to hear what you thought of Z! I’ve had my eye on that one all summer. I think my favorite read this summer was Mrs Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children…it was totally different from what I expected and I just couldn’t put it down.

  9. Leigh Kramer says:

    Adding a couple of these to my To Read list! I started Eat With Joy a couple of months ago and I’ve been enjoying it. Jesus Feminist is on deck. I’ve given up on Hosseini- I liked The Kite Runner, though it was a difficult read at times, but didn’t like the second book at all.

    I’m really enjoying Christianity for the Rest of Us (DIana Butler Bass)- I’ve been meaning to tell you about it! I’ve got another book by her from the library, too.

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